Letters to the Editor, September 03, 2015

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 September, 2015, 5:28pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 September, 2015, 5:28pm

Encouraging nationalism can be risky

Today, China commemorates Japan's surrender marking the end of the second world war, on September 2, 1945. It is doing so with a massive military parade in Tiananmen Square.

The mainland newspaper, the Global Times, claims that one of the most important goals of this parade is to achieve a sense of national cohesion.

This greater sense of national identity may increase people's trust in the central government.

However, this will in turn lead to raised expectations on the part of the public, which could in turn limit the policy options tackling problems.

The government should respond to the internal and external challenges the country faces in a rational and moderate manner.

Efforts aimed at creating a heightened sense of nationalism will not in any way aid efforts to resolve the economic and social contradictions faced by the nation.

On the contrary, such emotions could act as a volatile force, which harms efforts to achieve the peaceful rise of China on the global stage.

People's Daily reported that at today's parade, new and advanced military hardware will be on display for the first time.

To nationalists, this will be a way of showing that the government's response to any external threats will be uncompromising. But, the leaders of the US and most European countries have declined invitations to attend this parade.

This reflects worries about the uncertain development of China.

The parade will show the world that the country has the military capability to protect itself.

Unfortunately, Western nations are misinterpreting China's intentions and seeing aggressive connotations in this event. Some of China's neighbours share similar concerns.

Peng Nian, Kowloon Tong

Inappropriate way to mark end of war

I cannot help but think, what a strange way to celebrate the end of a war that cost millions of lives - to parade for public viewing (today in Beijing) destructive weaponry and male and female soldiers who could be used in the wars to come.

What is there to celebrate about the fact that states feel the need to develop such barbaric equipment, still less to flaunt it in public?

I'm not blaming the Chinese government alone - sadly this kind of display occurs all over the so-called civilised world.

It will certainly be a cause for all of us to celebrate if such displays become an historical event, looked back on by humanity with the same incredulity as we now have for certain practices of our even less enlightened forefathers.

If that day ever comes, then perhaps we will be able to call ourselves truly civilised, and to celebrate that fact in a fitting and uplifting manner.

Jon Fearon-Jones, Macau

Standing still is safest option on escalator

There have been news reports in the last week about the correct etiquette when on an escalator.

In Japan, 51 railway operators and airport-related firms have joined forces to support a campaign to get people to stand still on escalators.

The MTR Corporation has launched a similar campaign.

Some people who want to finish their journey faster like to walk up or down escalators. Others prefer to stay still.

In order to maintain good order on escalators and make them as safe to use as possible, we should stay still.

Some might ask, if you are standing still, should you stand on the right or left side?

The new rules proposes for Japan are that you should stand still on the right and left sides.

In other words, you should stand where you like.

I think this is a good idea and it will reduce accident rates on escalators and help those who already prefer not to walk.

I can understand those who are opposed to this idea of all commuters remaining stationary.

They will argue that they always walk on escalators because standing still is a waste of time. As someone once said, "You have eternity to rest when you die."

I do appreciate that point of view, but my well-being, and even my life, are more important than saving some time. Standing still and "wasting" that valuable time could stop you getting hurt.

Hongkongers who are in a rush and always walk up and down escalators increase their risk of sustaining an injury.

Wong Hiu-yan, Tseung Kwan O

Consulate could do more for helpers

The profile of Indonesian consul general Chalief Akbar was interesting because it showed that it needed a horrific case like that of Erwiana Sulistyaningsih's to make that country's consulate finally act on behalf of its migrant workers ("'We do not want a second Erwiana'", August 31).

But as long-time Indonesian activist Eni Lestari has put it, more of the women turn to NGOs because their consulate has often offered them little help.

It is no secret that the Indonesian consulate has shown more interest in exporting its women than in ensuring that their welfare is safeguarded.

Perhaps now it will try to ensure its country's image is not further besmirched and will display more regard for its women toiling abroad and helping its country's economy.

Mr Akbar should acknowledge that it has been mainly Philippine helpers' groups, especially those supported by Christian churches, that first took up the cause of their abused sister Indonesians.

Since there are such large numbers of Indonesian women slaving in Hong Kong households, why is it that "Father Chalief," as he styles himself, has not set up a shelter house like the Filipino-run Bethune House which has been doing such sterling work for many years?

He cites lower numbers of Indonesian domestics filing complaints about their employers.

But has he considered that many of them are virtually kept captive in their employers' homes and are often afraid to report abuse for fear of losing their jobs?

The commodification of women and its consequences, as the Philippines has learned, is a fraught issue.

So long as men in developing countries cannot provide properly for their families because of their governments' ineptitude, with vulnerable women being exported instead, foreign diplomats posted abroad should be doubly aware that their nationals need their utmost protection and respect.

Isabel Escoda, Lantau

Advantages of mainstream schooling

I am writing about the father in Hong Kong who has decided to take his 11-year-old son out of the mainstream education system in favour of homeschooling.

I recognise how vital it is to make the right choices, because we cannot underestimate the importance of education. However, I do not think this was the right choice.

The Education Bureau has two reasons for wanting children in Hong Kong to study in school.

First of all, their schooling will have a profound effect on their future. If their parents are allowed to elect homeschooling, these children will lose the opportunity to interact with peers in a school environment.

The chance to meet new friends and communicate on a regular basis with other children will have been lost.

This might have a detrimental effect on their mental health and undermine their character development.

Second, people learn at different rates. Some students will learn at a fast rate and others will be slower.

Teachers are able to help the slower youngsters in the classroom environment and ensure that all of them have the chance to learn all the material that is being taught.

Teachers can check this is being achieved by various methods such as territory-wide system assessment.

If students are being homeschooled, the bureau is unable to check the progress they are making.

Clearly, it is better for children to be in school.

Michelle Mai, Sau Mau Ping 

Rote-learning system is not helpful

I refer to the report, "Is Hong Kong's education 'spoon-fed?' Parents to meet officials over bid to have son educated outside mainstream system" (August 27).

The spoon-feeding accusation is valid, with students memorising information but not really learning. That should not be the purpose of an education system.

Students' priority is to memorise enough to be able to pass all the tests and exams they are forced to sit. They follow their teachers' instructions rather than trying to show any initiative.

I would like to see youngsters in Hong Kong trying to be more independent in their studies.

They need to learn to do research by themselves and use their own initiative to acquire knowledge.

In an academic sense, they must be able to stand on their own two feet.

They have a better chance of doing this if the education system is reformed. Teachers should encourage them to learn on their own.

Phoebe Ko, Tseung Kwan O